If you are the new manager of an HOA or a new leader in the board, it may have come to your attention that certain rules have been passed over or relaxed, lulling residents into a sense of complacency. HOAs are notorious for not enforcing the rules that residents agree to when becoming a member of the community. This makes it difficult when the time comes to crack down on certain rules. If you are hoping to establish a firm foundation for the rules and regulations of your HOA to stand upon, these three tips are a great place to start.
Identify Which Problems are a Higher Priority
Your first concern when deciding to begin enforcing rules that have gone unenforced for a long period of time is to establish a hierarchy of importance with regards to the rules. By doing so, you will identify which rules and issues are a higher priority to begin enforcing. Many factors should go in to this decision, but the main two things that should be considered are the effects of the issue on the quality of living within the community, and on the curb appeal of the community itself. Anything beyond this can have a lower priority.
Start With a Written Announcement
Suddenly surprising residents with angry written warnings and fines will do nothing to promote a feeling of community within your HOA. Therefore, it is important to first notify residents that there will be a crack down on the rules. This is best communicated through a written notice given to each of the residents. The notice should announce that changes are being made to try to enforce the rules in order to create a peaceful and enjoyable living situation that will be to everyone’s benefit.
Within the written announcement, it may be helpful to invite all residents to a special board meeting to discuss the new enforcement policy. Residents should be invited to ask questions and state opinions regarding the announcement and the changes it brings.
In addition to the announcement, a second page should also be included reminding all residents of the rules, regulations, and policies to which they agreed upon entering the community, as well as the consequences that should be expected in the event of any violations of these policies.
Establish a Clear Plan of Action
A clear plan of action should be established prior to any changes. A good format for what should occur after a violation is as follows:
Written notice should be given to the person in violation of the rule including possible consequences of further violation and a timeline for adherence.
A fine should be exacted in the event that the issue is not resolved within the time frame.
In the event of further noncompliance, a lien can be placed on the property.
Unresolved issues can then be taken to court.
In the case of a severe and unresolved issue that has an extreme impact on other residents and the property, police should be notified or a foreclosure against the offending party can be considered.
Enforcing rules that have been ignored for an extended period of time can be a daunting task. However, by taking these small steps, you can move forward to your goal of having an organized HOA with a high quality of life.